This article was originally published on November 1, 2014
Discussions around breasts are rarely controversy-free. To breastfeed, or not to breastfeed? That is one question. Others include: #Freethenipple, or no? Should women revel in the attention and free drinks that a low-cut top can bring, or should they practice modesty and cover up? What about breast augmentation, currently the second most common plastic surgery performed in the U.S.? Most women think about all of these questions at some point in their lives. And, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to explore the complex relationship women have with their breasts.
We so often compartmentalize our public coverage of breasts into discrete narratives: breasts as sexual, breasts as nurturing, breasts as the origin of cancer. But, the reality is that women experience the interplay between these narratives (alongside breasts' many other roles and stories) every day. Our breasts can be supremely sexually pleasurable; they can be a source of anxiety about "measuring up" to cultural expectations. They can be beautiful; they can be a source of illness and pain. Each woman's breasts — and each woman's story — are uniquely her own.
So, we bring you 25 women and their personal relationships with their breasts: difficult and celebratory, in sickness and in health.